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Resources For Psychologists, Physicians, & Other Health Care Professionals Wanting To Volunteer Their Services To People In Need
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Many psychologists, physicians, and other health care professionals are looking for ways to volunteer their professional services on a pro bono basis to help those who are in great need.
I gathered the resources below to make it a little easier to find a way to help others that best fits the professional's interests, values, and available time.
The many diverse projects range from those requiring only only a single block of a few hours with no further commitment or one hour per week in one's own office conducting therapy to those involving relatively short trips to or longer stays in another country.
Some valuable professional services can be provided online, such as through the United Nation's program in which professionals communicate online with grassroots organizations, international NGOs, local governments, educational institutions, and United Nations agencies to help them address developmental challenges.
The resources include:
- national programs in the U.S. (e.g., those that help returning veterans and their families; National Social Justice Initiative; United We Serve; MaleSurvivor; the Red Cross; RSVP)
- programs focusing on other countries, continents, or areas (e.g., Psychologists Beyond Borders, Counselors Without Borders, Info Nepal, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, Doctors Without Borders, Teach With Africa)
- organizations that match individuals looking to volunteer with agencies and projects seeking volunteers (e.g., Health Care Volunteer, AAAS "On Call" Scientists, Volunteer Match, International Health Volunteer, Global Volunteer Network)
- local programs (e.g., Haight Ashbury Free Clinics & Walden House in San Francisco; Fremont Community Therapy Project in Seattle; Walk-In Counseling Center in Minneapolis; Greater Victoria Citizens' Counselling Centre in Victoria; The Ark in Chicago; Volunteers in Psychotherapy in Hartford; and The Fostering Connection in New York City)
For practical reasons, I listed only a few representative local programs, hoping that they might serve as models for locales that lack such services.
The resources below are just a sampling and by no means exhaustive, but they may be helpful to professionals who are just getting started in looking for the best way to volunteer their services to those who are in need.
"Psychology Beyond Borders works with communities alongside governmental and non-governmental agencies around the globe to provide psychosocial support to those affected by disasters, terrorism, or armed conflict. PBB's initiatives strive to not only alleviate distress that can occur in the aftermath of traumatic experiences, but also to boost self-reliance and to support the natural resilience of affected communities. By working together with local people in each community, PBB strives to contribute to a sustainable local skills and knowledge base, with the goal of strengthening and enhancing local communities' capacities to provide services on their own whenever possible. Research and evaluation are integral components of all PBB projects. PBB is committed to using and/or testing approaches identified as "best practice" and adding to the body of evidence about what constitutes best practice. PBB is equally committed to extensive consultation and collaboration with local partners to ensure culturally appropriate work that incorporates and respects local needs and customs."
"Our first target population is the U.S. troops and families who are being affected by the current military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Give an Hour is asking mental health professionals nationwide to literally give an hour of their time each week to provide free mental health services to military personnel and their families. Research will guide the development of additional services needed by the military community, and appropriate networks will be created to respond to those needs. Individuals who receive services will be given the opportunity to give an hour back in their own community."
"The National Social Justice Initiative (NSJI) is a joint project between Counselors Without Borders and the National Institute of Multicultural Competence. The aim of the project is to promote multicultural social justice projects throughout the United States and globally within our own communities that promote human dignity, human rights, equity, fairness, equal treatment, and equal access for those who are experiencing the effects of being oppressed and marginalized. The project is open to any professional or student in the field of mental health who espouses these values and would like to join a national network to offer counseling support in their local schools and communities through community-based projects."
"Returning Veterans Project is a nonprofit organization comprised of politically unaffiliated and independent health care practitioners who offer free and confidential* services to veterans and their families of past and current Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns."
"We connect volunteers to health-related volunteering opportunities for free—anywhere, any time, and for any length of time.... Unlike many of the services on the Internet, our services are 100% free for volunteers and organizations alike. We provide an avenue for any volunteers interested in health areas to find an appropriate volunteering opportunity that fits their requirements."
"Our mission is to create a nationwide network of mental health providers and agencies to donate their services, free of charge, to family members who have a loved one serving in the Middle East."
"The role of the clinical psychologist is to provide holistic solutions to reduce emotional psychological distress and enhance and promote psychological well being. The psychologist will work as part of a multidisciplinary team alongside doctors, nurses, social workers, education professionals, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. This position requires either a Ph.D., Psy.D. or a specialist degree in school psychology and a strong command of Spanish. All of the children in our homes have been orphaned or abandoned. Many of them arrive extremely vulnerable from the separation of their familiar surroundings and are grieving from the death of their parent or other family members. Previous to arriving at NPH the children run the risk of suffering violence, exploitation, discrimination and other forms of abuse. They also can suffer from malnutrition, illnesses, physical and or psychosocial traumas and cognitive and or emotional limitations in their development. Due to circumstances such as lack of continuous education, poor economic situations, family disintegration, degenerative illnesses, etc., these all negatively impact a child's development."
Soldiers Project: "The Soldiers Project is a private, non-profit, independent group of volunteer licensed mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, registered nurses and marriage and family therapists. We provide free counseling and support to military service members who have served or who expect to serve in the Iraq and/or Afghanistan conflicts and to veterans of those conflicts.... Our services are readily accessible and entirely free of charge. We do not report to any government agency."
"RSVP is America’s largest volunteer network for people age 55 and over. Join RSVP and you join nearly 500,000 volunteers across the country who are tackling tough issues in their communities. RSVP offers a full range of volunteer opportunities with thousands of local and national organizations. With RSVP, you choose how and where you want to serve. You choose the amount of time you want to give. And you choose whether you want to draw on your skills or develop new ones. In short, you find the opportunity that’s right for you."
"The goal of SOFAR is to provide a flexible and diverse range of psychological services that: fosters stabilization, helps prevent crises, and helps families manage acute problems effectively when they occur."
"We welcome behavioral, life, physical, and social scientists, as well as engineers, technicians, medical professionals, and public health practitioners.... 'On-call' Scientists connects scientists interested in volunteering their skills and knowledge with human rights organizations that are in need of scientific expertise."
"Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need rebuild their lives and reach their full potential. Through thousands of human service programs, including housing and healthcare, Volunteers of America helps more than 2 million people in over 400 communities in 44 states...including at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions."
"If you like to help people you have come to the right place. The Red Cross is recruiting volunteers to be trained and ready to respond to disasters"
"VolunteerMatch is a leader in the nonprofit world dedicated to helping everyone find a great place to volunteer."
"Idealist is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities [for volunteering] supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives."
"The UNV Online Volunteering service connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Volunteers contribute their skills online to help organizations address development challenges. Organizations collaborate with online volunteers over the Internet to strengthen the impact of their development work."
"MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need.... The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation.... MSF is neutral. The organization does not take sides in armed conflicts, provides care on the basis of need alone, and pushes for increased independent access to victims of conflict as required under international humanitarian law."
"Nearly 50 years ago, Project HOPE was founded on the willingness of doctors, nurses and other medical volunteers to travel the globe on a floating hospital ship, the SS HOPE, to provide medical care, health education and humanitarian assistance to people in need. While we now operate land-based programs in more than 35 countries, Project HOPE, in a unique partnership with the U.S. Navy, has again returned to sending medical volunteers on board ships around the world to provide medical assistance, long reaching health education programs, vaccinations and humanitarian assistance.... If you are interested in volunteering with Project HOPE, either to join disaster relief teams or to assist with our ongoing programs, we invite you to register with us now so you will be in our volunteer database when a need arises."
"United We Serve is a nationwide service initiative that will help meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn.... This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encourage volunteers to develop their own "do-it-yourself" projects. Serve.gov is your online resource for not only finding volunteer opportunities in your community, but also creating your own. Use Serve.gov to help you do your part. America’s foundation will be built one community at a time – and it starts with you."
"Connecting people with communities in need.... We currently provide volunteer programs through our partner organizations in 21 countries. The network continues to expand with new programs currently being researched and assessed."
"Its ever-expanding programs offer a variety of volunteer and travel programs in 34 different countries throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America: Volunteer Abroad, TEFL Abroad, Tours and Travels, Internship Abroad, Mini-Venture, Group Seasonal Escapes and Paid Teaching opportunities."
"Join short-term volunteers in our non-profit network providing long-term, ethical service on a volunteer vacation abroad or a USA volunteer program. Live and work with local people on life-affirming service programs for one, two or three weeks. Extended stay options up to 24 weeks. We support some 100 host communities countries year-around through short-term volunteer teams, direct project funding and cld sponsorships."
"Global Vision International (GVI) offers volunteers the opportunity to make a genuine difference through its expeditions and projects while having an amazing hands-on experience in over forty countries worldwide. Opportunities range from 1 week to 6 months."
"International Healthcare Volunteers (IHVO) is an independent, not for profit, humanitarian medical aid organization whose primary purpose is to establish an accessible repository of physicians, dentists and other medical experts who have the requisite skills and interest to assist in domestic and international short term medical relief projects. By establishing a database of interested physicians and medical personnel, we aim to facilitate the most advantageous, efficient, and streamlined placement of medical personnel with the most appropriate medical outreach program that need skilled medical teams."
"Each year more than 5,000 volunteers participate in 2 to 3 week workcamps all over the world.... Work with asylum seekers in Norway.... Hundreds of other opportunities in over 60 countries."
"Our directories contain over 15,000 opportunities abroad updated daily including study abroad, internships, volunteer opportunities, teach abroad, language schools and much more."
"The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is an association of non-governmental organizations involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges."
"INFO Nepal is a non-government organization (NGO), whose mission is to provide volunteers with a customized program that will enable them to make an important contribution to the people of Nepal. In the past 8 years we have placed over 1250 volunteers around various parts of Nepal within host families and orphanages.... INFO has established 14 Children's resource centers and also helps with the funding of over 10 orphanages around the Kathmandu Valley, Chitwan and in Pokhara."
"VEGlobal (Voluntarios de la Esperanza) is a different kind of volunteer organization. Volunteers of diverse backgrounds and nationalities work with children in schools, community centers and orphanages to develop and implement educational programs and build lasting relationships. Our projects are created out of a desire to bring equality of opportunity to the children of Chile. We empower our volunteers and the children we serve not only to dream of change, but to be the change."
"Teach with Africa's mission is to break down economic, educational and social barriers in Africa through a reciprocal exchange of teaching and learning."
"Our mission is to build a non-violent society where diversity is celebrated, the energies of conflict are turned into a positive transforming power, and where the democratic rights of every individual are respected, protected and pursued."
"AdvocateWeb is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing information and resources to promote awareness and understanding of the issues involved in the exploitation of persons by trusted helping professionals. We are attempting to be a helpful resource for victim/survivors, their family and friends, the general public, and for victim advocates and professionals."
"We are committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men through support, treatment, research, education, advocacy, and activism."
New York Cares (New York City)
"New York Cares meets pressing community needs by mobilizing caring New Yorkers in volunteer service.... New York Cares is able to touch the lives of nearly 450,000 disadvantaged New Yorkers every year, while meeting some of our city's most pressing needs."
"To address the thousands of adolescents and young adults that were streaming into San Francisco for the cultural revolution of the 1960’s, Haight Ashbury Free Clinics (HAFC) opened its doors in 1967 as the first free medical clinic in the country. During the first week of operation over 400 patients were seen. HAFC has been an innovator in delivering primary health care services to many of the people who can least afford them. 'Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege' has been the guiding principle as well as its famous tagline. Walden House was founded in 1969 in the same Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco to help homeless and runaway adolescents with substance abuse problems. Today, Walden House treats people with mental health and substance abuse problems at various residential and outpatient centers throughout California, including in-prison treatment programs, and facilities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, providing drug and alcohol treatment and mental health, vocational and housing services for people transitioning back into their communities. Like HAFC, Walden House has always served people who are uninsured, homeless and socio-economically disenfranchised, including those with HIV/AIDS."
The Psychotherapy Institute (San Francisco Bay area)
"The Psychotherapy Institute is a non-profit multi-disciplinary organization of mental health professionals.... For more than 35 years TPI has provided affordable psychotherapy to San Francisco Bay Area residents.... The Psychotherapy Institute has grown to a membership of more than 450 clinicians.... The Psychotherapy Institute is run largely through volunteer efforts."
Greater Victoria Citizens' Counselling Centre (Victoria, B.C.)
"The Greater Victoria Citizens' Counselling Centre assists adult community members in attaining socially and psychologically satisfying lives by providing quality, accessible, volunteer counselling services."
Kansas City Free Health Clinic (Kansas City, MO)
"Just as it was formed to do in 1971, the Kansas City Free Health Clinic exists to promote health and wellness by providing quality health care services, at no charge, to people without access to basic care.... Volunteers are and always have been the heart and soul of the Clinic. Because of tremendous volunteer support, the Clinic has been able to make crucial differences in the lives of our patients."
Fremont Community Therapy Project (Seattle, WA)
"The Fremont Community Therapy Project (FCTP) offers low-fee psychotherapy and psychological assessment to people whose financial resources make it difficult to get help for problems in their lives. Under the supervision of volunteer licensed psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals, doctoral graduate students in psychology offer high-quality psychological services to their clients."
Walk-In Counseling Center (Minneapolis, MN)
"WICC provides crisis intervention and short-term counseling to individuals, couples and families. No appointment is necessary during counseling hours.... Who can Volunteer as Counselors or Supervisors: Psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, advanced standing graduate students with the necessary skills."
The Ark (Chicago, IL)
"Today, more than 3,000 needy men, women and children depend on The ARK for survival and on you to light their way. It is an age-old Jewish tradition to care for others through acts of loving-kindness. Inspired by this tradition, The ARK provides a comprehensive array of services for the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of those in need. Guided by the ideals of the Torah, The ARK is committed to providing opportunities for Jews of all backgrounds to volunteer their time and perform mitzvot (good deeds). Since 1971, The ARK has delivered medical, social welfare, legal and similar human services in the spirit of tzedakah (charitable acts) and chesed (loving-kindness).... The ARK offers its services free of charge from our four facilities on Chicago’s North Side. We provide our services in a manner that preserves the dignity of each individual."
Volunteers in Psychotherapy (Hartford, CT)
"A community nonprofit organization that provides truly private psychotherapy for no fee (or a low fee). *Clients 'pay for' their therapy by doing independent volunteer work for the charity of their choice. *Preserve the Privacy of your Personal Psychotherapy Discussions by not using your insurance. *No Reports Sent to Managed Care or Insurance Companies."
One Brick: Volunteering Made Easy (San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, Washington DC, Minneapolis)
"One Brick brings volunteers together to support other non-profit organizations by adopting an innovative twist to the volunteer experience: we create a friendly and social atmosphere around volunteering, and after each volunteer event, we invite volunteers to gather at a local restaurant or cafe where they can get to know one another in a relaxed social setting. Our 'commitment-free volunteering' allows you to choose when you volunteer, rather than having to make commitments for a certain number of volunteer hours, or agree to be available every week at a specific time. Volunteering made easy!"
A FEW OTHER RESOURCES ON THIS SITE:
- Resources for Caregivers & Their Clinicians: Articles, Books, Websites, Etc.
- Psychological Interventions for People with Cancer: Therapy & Self-Help
- Resources for Those Seeking Nursing Homes, Hospices, or End-Of-Life Resources
- Sources of Therapy, Guide, Hearing, and Assistance Animals
- Disability Resources in Psychology Training & Practice
- Resources for Troops & Veterans, Their Families, & Those Who Provide Services To Them
- Resources for Torture Survivors, Refugees, & Asylum-Seekers
- Forgiveness Resources for Therapists & Counselors